There's no doubt that the process of going through a divorce can be contentious and both emotionally and financially taxing. This is especially true of married couples who share children. In divorces where children are involved, the courts actively seek to find child custody and child support arrangements that are in the child's best interest.
While the divorce settlement and child custody and support process is fairly well established in America's family court system, matters are being complicated by changes in society. Today, more than 50 percent of children born in the United States are born to single mothers. While some of these women are truly "single" a large number are in long-term and committed relationships.
Many of today's child-bearing adults grew up during the 1970s and 1980s at a time when divorce numbers soared. For many of these individuals, the entire concept of marriage is often something with which they aren't able to identify. As such a growing number are choosing to forego marriage, but not having children.
While there may be nothing inherently wrong with a couple choosing to have a child out of wedlock, things can quickly become ambiguous and hostile should a break-up occur. When unwed parents decide to split, there is nothing legally binding that ties them together. As such, both individuals are often left floundering as they try to make sense of their situation and how best to both emotionally and financially care for shared children.
Couples who find themselves in this situation could benefit from the advice of a legal professional. Couples don't have to have been married to seek the counsel of a divorce attorney. A legal professional who specializes in family law matters will be able to provide sound legal advice and representation related to child custody and child support matters.
Source: New York Observer, "No Divorce Is the New Divorce: Moms and Dads Navigate Messy Breakups in Marriage-less World," Rose Surnow, March 19, 2013